‘We need a moral system of animal production. This will avoid societal unrest about Dutch cattle farming, because all stakeholders will be involved in the development of new systems in advance. By formulating joint boundary conditions, you will largely prevent negative judgments from the public or societal organisations that speak of immoral livestock farming,’ Professor Bart Gremmen, Personal professor of Ethics in Life Sciences, argued during his inaugural speech on 20 April at Wageningen University & Research.
"To avoid the unwanted effects of a new technology, two conditions must be met, says the Wageningen professor. First, it should be known that a new technology may have harmful effects. And second, it must be possible to adapt that technology to avoid these effects. ‘One or both of these conditions are often missing. Initially, the adverse social impact of a fully developed technology is insufficiently clear and once a technology has spread in society, it is too late to prevent harmful consequences. "
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Prof. Gremmen therefore advocates innovations that focus on ethical issues from the outset. The ethicist is doing this in Life Sciences to recognise the immoral aspects of innovative technology, to enable parties around the innovation to make a judgment. Think of scientists and technologists, designers, representatives from the sector, but also from civil society organisations and interest groups. ‘In this way, all economic and social interests and moral considerations can be taken into account, so that society as a whole does not walk into a moral trap,’ says Prof. Gremmen.